Anoka reservist’s book connects military values with private sector needs

Dennis Davis has more than a few good reasons why hiring a military veteran makes a lot of sense for businesses in the private sector.

Davis during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan. Photos courtesy of Dennis Davis

Davis during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan. Photos courtesy of Dennis Davis

Honor, integrity, leadership and courage are all values that can play an important role in any business.

One place they are taught well and are held in high esteem is in the military.

Davis focuses on working with companies to help them learn the benefits, and return on investment, of hiring veterans.

The Anoka resident has written “Not Your Average Joe”, a book that connects the strengths most veterans acquire while serving in the military with how those values can benefit corporate America.

Davis has coined for himself the name “chief translator” of his company, Metafrazo, the Greek word for translate.

He considers himself a translator because he understands the languages of both the military and human resources and recruiting.

Davis has a decade of experience in the private sector, working in talent acquisition and recruiting.

He spent several years in active duty in the U.S. Navy where he was a gunner’s mate with responsibility for the Mark 41 Vertical Launch Missile System aboard the USS Shiloh.

He was honorably discharged in 1994 and returned to finish his undergraduate degree at Bethel University.

In 2003 he re-enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, where he still serves today.

Davis has been deployed twice, once in 2005 to the Dover Port Mortuary and then to Afghanistan in 2010.

While serving in Afghanistan, Davis along with his family – wife joy and three daughters – coordinated a coat drive that brought 1,000 coats to Afghan children.

After being laid off from a company Davis described as having a “toxic” work environment, he decided to go into business for himself as a consultant.

Dennis Davis meets Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House in 2005.

Dennis Davis meets Vice President Dick Cheney at the White House in 2005.

At the time, the unemployment rate for veterans was 22.9 percent.

“A lot of people say you should hire a veteran,” Davis said. “Employers say that’s great, but what’s in it for me. I show them what their corporation would be like if they did.”

“There is a ripple effect from hiring the wrong person or the right person.”

He would like the private sector to shift from skills based hiring, to a values based system.

“When values align, you can teach someone just about anything,” Davis said. “You can teach someone how to use the Excel spreadsheet. You can’t always teach honor and integrity in the private sector.”

Davis feels most employee relations issues come from hiring the wrong person, someone who doesn’t have the right values, or “soft skills”.

Too many veterans are reluctant to sell those skills they have learned in the military, Davis said, confusing it with “selling out.”

It can be hard for a veteran to highlight personal accomplishments to a prospective employer.

“In the military, everything is done as a team,” Davis said. “You never hear ‘I.’ But veterans need to be able to highlight their specific, personal accomplishments as a part of that team.”

Davis book coverFormer military men and women, and reservists, continue to struggle to find work, with the number of out of work veterans still around double the state’s average unemployment numbers, Davis said.

“Especially in this area, because we don’t have an active duty presence,” he said.

Potential employers are often fearful of hiring someone in the reserves, because of issues surrounding deployment.

He hopes “Not Your Average Joe” will help those business leaders who are unsure of hiring veterans see the advantages.

Davis illustrates the connection of military values with the private sector by telling the stories of people he knows, or in many cases has served with.

There are nine profiles of military core values with examples of why they matter in the private sector.

For example, in a chapter on honor, Davis encourages business leaders to think about how that value would affect the excellence and vision of their company if its employees showed a high level of honor. Davis also writes that treating a business’ customers with honor could have an impact on revenue, profitability and customer retention.

In that same chapter Davis tells veterans it is their job as a candidate for employment to communicate how they have displayed honor in their military career.

“It’s not just the hard skills that matter, values are truly important,” Davis said.

While his first book was just released this spring, Davis is already at work on a second focused on post traumatic stress disorder, and the misconceptions that exist around hiring veterans who might suffer from PTSD.

The book “Not Your Average Joe” is available for purchase at NYAJvets.com. For more information on Davis’s work helping the private sector recruit veterans, visit www.metafrazo.net.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com

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